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Texas’ Sam Ehlinger isn’t the only quarterback in the Big 12 entering his senior season. Kansas State signal-caller Skylar Thompson, who emerged from both a depth chart battle and a head coaching change as QB1 in Manhattan, has one more year under Chris Klieman to ascend the record books, get his first win versus the Longhorns and contend for a conference title.
Thompson’s previous attempts at taking down Texas haven’t ended how he would prefer. In 2018, amid the quarterback competition with Alex Delton, Thompson was 8-for-18 for 96 yards in about a half of play. In 2019 he performed well in Austin, throwing for 253 yards and two scores, but the Longhorns prevailed with a last-second field goal.
His numbers have improved since he took control of the quarterback room at KSU, and since Klieman replaced the venerable Bill Snyder after the 2018 season. When Snyder was still head coach, disagreements between he and his offensive assistants led to a disjointed offense that shuffled quarterbacks.
No such issue existed for Klieman since Delton decided to transfer to TCU prior to last season. Klieman’s first quarterback as head coach of Kansas State knew the role was his from the jump.
Klieman’s system powered a FCS dynasty at North Dakota State and helped Carson Wentz skyrocket up NFL Draft boards. Thompson isn’t the physical product Wentz was in college, but he does bring a constraint-level running ability to the Wildcat offense in addition to his serviceable passing acumen.
Would he succeed at Oklahoma or Oklahoma State? Maybe, but the Kansas State offense is conducive to his skillset. The Wildcats outscored Oklahoma last season with Thompson at the helm, too.
Texas has won three straight against K-State, their longest win streak in 20 matchups. The Wildcats have taken just over half of the two teams’ conference matchups since 1998, and possess a 7-2 record against Texas in Manhattan.
The Little Apple hasn’t been kind to Texas since the formation of the Big 12, and leaving KSU with a win has proven to be a difficult task. In addition to preparing for a road test, Texas will have to prepare for one of the few senior quarterbacks in the conference eager to notch a victory over the burnt orange.